When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in 2020, online wine sales surged. The stress of the pandemic left people feeling more in need of a drink than ever during a time when they were less willing to leave their homes. It was a perfect environment for online wine retailers to blossom.
But then a curious thing happened. Rather than declining as pandemic restrictions eased, online sales of wine continued to rise. Many wine drinkers who first turned to the Web out of necessity were sticking around for the convenience, selection, and value online wine stores offer.
Finding great wine online is easier than ever, especially compared to the limited selection at stores. Online, you’ve got a vast selection of wines at your fingertips. It’s easy to search by vintage or grape variety. And like other forms of online shopping, you can do it in your pajamas.
The Best Places to Buy Wine Online
Our pick for the best wine seller online, Wine.com, offers the best combination of selection, searchability, and shipping options. If all you want is a good bottle of wine and an easy shopping experience, it’s a great choice.
However, if you’re looking for something more specific, one of the other sites on our list might meet your needs better. Some specialize in particular wine types, like organic wines, rare vintages, budget bottles, or curated collections.
Others stand out for service. They offer more delivery options or recommendations geared to your particular needs and tastes.
Best Overall: Wine.com
Wine.com boasts a massive selection. It carries over 3,000 red wines, over 1,500 white wines, and over 350 Champagnes and sparkling wines. There’s a section devoted to fine wines costing hundreds per bottle, but there are also many highly rated wines under $20.
The site offers many ways to search. You can browse specific varietals and wine regions or sort by rating, price, vintage, size, or review. Use the Discover tab to find popular wine styles, green and sustainable wines, or top picks in various price ranges. There’s even a chat window offering advice from a live wine expert.
There are many shipping options as well. You can choose standard or expedited shipping or select your delivery date within the next six months. If you join the StewardShip wine club for $59 per year, shipping is free. Or arrange a pickup at a local FedEx office or Walgreens.
Best Wine Club: Winc
Winc is a California-based winemaker that operates an online wine club. When you sign up for membership, you take a short quiz to determine your palate profile. Each month, Winc sends four suitable bottles of wine from its own vineyard and its partners. It refines its recommendations over time based on your ratings of its picks.
Winc’s wines aren’t all the same price. Your monthly membership fee turns into credit in your account, and it deducts your monthly wine selections from the balance. If you skip a month, credits build up in your account. Prices start at around $13 per bottle.
You must log into your account each month and check out to receive your selections. You can also change your selections or add more bottles. Shipping is free for all orders of four bottles or more.
Best for Organic Wines: Chambers Street Wines
Reviewers call Chambers Street Wines the go-to store for organic, biodynamic, and natural wines. The site doesn’t offer many big brand names, nor does the physical store associated with it in New York City. Instead, it’s a place to look for new wines from small, sustainable winemakers.
The store owners personally taste-tested all 800-plus wines they carry. Chambers Street’s selection tends to fit in with current trends in the Big Apple. There’s a strong focus on wines from Burgundy, the Rhone, the Loire Valley, Piedmont, Austria, and Germany.
You can search wines by region and sort the list by producer, vintage, quality, and price. Bottles start at around $11, and there’s a 10% discount on a full case.
Shipping is by FedEx, with ground as the default method. Delivery is free in some parts of New York City, and pickup is also an option.
Best for Rare Wines: K&L Wine Merchants
Founded in 1976, K&L Wine Merchants is a favorite with wine experts. Both “Wine Enthusiast” to “Food & Wine” magazines praise this site for its old and rare vintages at steep discounts. Its buyers visit Europe regularly to buy directly from winemakers, helping keep prices down.
K&L’s wine selection includes nearly 8,000 wines from around the world, with a particular focus on pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. There’s also a small selection of spirits. You can search by country, subregion, variety, appellation, vintage, price range, or general type.
There are several wine clubs at K&L, including a personal sommelier service with custom monthly picks. You can also shop by the bottle. Prices range from under $10 to over $100.
California-based K&L offers shipping to only eight states. If you live in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area, you can opt for local delivery or curbside pickup.
Best for Food Pairings: Bottlerocket
Buying wine at Bottlerocket is a unique experience. Rather than presenting a list sorted by varietal or region, the home page asks what wine you want to pair your food with. That’s the site’s focus: helping you find the best wine for any meal, from steak to Chinese takeout.
But that’s not the only search option. You can browse the 500-plus wine collection by category, grape, region, or price. You can also use tasting criteria like “floral,” “muscular,” or “jammy.” Choose “green” for organic and natural wines, “critics” for expert picks, or “gifts” to find wines for people from “the boss” to “third date.”
Bottlerocket’s prices range from under $15 to over $200. Delivery is free within some parts of New York City. Elsewhere, orders ship via FedEx and can take three to 12 days.
Best for Collections: Wine Insiders
What sets Wine Insiders apart from other online wine stores is its collections. To help you discover great wines, it provides wine sets sorted by things like theme, variety, and region. Examples include Italian reds, rosés, natural wines, sparkling wines under $20, and brunch selections. Some sets are curated by celebrities like Martha Stewart and Geoffrey Zakarian.
You can also buy wine by the bottle. There are over 500 wines to choose from, with plenty of tasting notes to guide you. Prices range from $9 to $25 per bottle, and every bottle comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Wine Insiders offers shipping to most states, but only on orders of three or more bottles. Shipping is a flat $14.95 for three to five bottles and free for six bottles or more.
Best for Every Budget: Gary’s Wine & Marketplace
The selection at Gary’s Wine and Marketplace is impressive. It offers nearly 3,000 wines, over 1,200 beers, and more than 1,100 types of spirits. There are also gift sets and a wide assortment of gourmet cheeses, snacks, and other tidbits to go with your beverages.
Gary’s offers wines for every price range, from under $5 to over $1,000 per bottle. You can browse its selections by style, variety, country, wine region, or features and sort the list by name, price, or what’s trending.
Gary’s also offers several wine clubs, including a sommelier society spotlighting a different type each month.
Gary’s has four physical stores in New Jersey and one in Napa Valley, California, so customers in those areas can arrange local delivery for a $5 fee. Shipping to other areas takes one to three days. You can see estimated shipping costs on the product page.
Best for Fast Delivery: Drizly
When you need wine or other booze in a hurry, Drizly is the place to look. The site has partnered with thousands of liquor and wine shops in more than 1,400 cities across the U.S. and Canada to make alcohol delivery available to over 100 million customers. Thus, when you buy wine via Drizly, you’re also supporting local businesses.
Because of this model, the selection available on Drizly depends on where you live. You can enter your zip code on the site to browse selections in your area. In most cases, you can have the wine of your choice delivered within an hour.
You can also order from outside your local area and have the wine shipped to you instead. However, shipments can take several business days, and you can’t select your delivery date.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Online Wine Retailers
To find the best online wine stores, we consulted multiple reviews to see which sites earned the most recommendations. Then we visited the top stores to check out their selection, pricing, shipping options, and ease of use.
Based on our findings, we selected the top online wine retailers to fit different wine-buying needs.
One top consideration when choosing an online wine store is selection. We looked both at how many wines each store offered in total and how much variety they offered.
The top-ranking stores featured vintages from various wine regions covering many different varietals. Stores earned extra marks for specialized offerings, such as fine wines, natural or biodynamic wines, and gift sets.
Another area in which we looked for variety was pricing. The best wine stores offered wines in several different price ranges. Most of the stores on our list have both high-end wines for special occasions and budget-friendly wines in the $10-and-under range.
There are two factors to consider when it comes to shipping: speed and cost. And in most cases, there’s a trade-off between the two, with faster delivery meaning higher prices.
The best online wine retailers balance these competing needs by offering multiple shipping options. You can get your wine in a few days for a lower price or pay extra for expedited shipping. Many stores provide local delivery and pickup options as well.
Ease of Shopping
The best wine retailers make shopping easy. If you’re looking for a specific bottle of wine, it should be easy to find it. Ideally, a store should offer multiple ways to search for what you want — by name, wine type, region, varietal, or price.
For those times when you’re not sure what you want, a wine shop should offer tools to help you choose. We favored stores that offered such shopping aids as:
- Ratings from other shoppers or wine experts
- Tasting notes to give you a preview of a wine’s flavor profile
- Advice on food pairings
- Tips for choosing wines for certain occasions
- General information about wine for the novice buyer
Buying Wine Online FAQs
If you’re new to buying wine online, the idea can seem a little confusing. It’s quite a different experience from visiting your local wine shop and walking out with a bottle under your arm. These are the answers to some of the most common questions shoppers have.
Should I Buy Wine Online?
Buying wine online has both pros and cons. The most significant advantage is choice. Online wine retailers can offer a much wider selection than most local wine shops, and their prices are often lower. They can be a better place to find obscure wines, such as those from small winemakers.
Shopping online also offers unparalleled convenience. You shop from your couch, and it’s much easier to search for the specific features you want than to examine bottle after bottle in a store. Ratings, tasting notes, and prices are all at your fingertips.
Finally, online wine stores are useful for people who haven’t found a good wine shop in their area. If you don’t know where to shop or find the prospect of walking into a store full of wine snobs intimidating, shopping online is much easier.
The biggest downside of buying wine online is that you can’t drink it right away. At best, you have to pick it up or wait for local delivery. At worst, you may have to wait several business days for shipping. Shipping also adds to the cost of each bottle — and in some areas, it’s not available at all.
Can I buy wine online and have it shipped to me?
That depends on where you live and where you shop. Laws about alcohol sales vary from state to state. In six states — Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia — you can’t order wine from out of state and have it delivered to your door.
Alabama had a similar ban until 2021, so many online wine stores still don’t deliver there. Some online wine retailers, such as Wine Insiders, won’t ship to Alaska or Hawaii. And some, such as K&L, only offer shipping to a handful of states.
Even if wine shipment is legal where you live, there are some restrictions. A person over 21 years old must be present to sign for the shipment when it arrives, which can be tricky if you work outside your home.
Finally, wine delivery isn’t always available in the summertime. Some wine clubs suspend their shipments during the summer months because excessive heat can damage fine wines.
Can you return wine you buy online?
That depends on where you bought it. Some online wine sellers, such as Wine.com, have generous return policies. If you decide you don’t want a bottle you ordered, you can return it for a refund or credit (minus shipping costs).
Other sellers, such as Winc, offer refunds on wines you’re dissatisfied with for any reason. And still others, such as Chambers Street Wines and Bottlerocket, only accept returns of defective wines (damaged or corked).
Is buying wine online cheaper?
It can be, but it isn’t always. Online wine retailers have lower operating costs than local wine shops, so they can generally offer wines for a lower price per bottle. And because they have a more extensive selection, affordable wines can be easier to find online.
However, when you buy wine online, shipping adds to the cost. Depending on where you live, the price per bottle after shipping could be higher than that at a local store.
You may be able to get around this problem if you buy wine in bulk. Some online wine stores offer free shipping when you purchase wine by the case or half case.
Also, some local wine retailers have very low prices — low enough to rival online wine stores. Supermarkets can sometimes offer low prices because they buy in bulk. That’s particularly true for stores specializing in wine, such as Trader Joe’s and Costco.
The bottom line is it pays to compare prices. In many cases, you’ll find that online wine stores have the best deals. But check local alternatives before you stock up. You may be pleasantly surprised.